Today we work, study, consume, and find our soul mate online. The Internet has become an essential platform as well as an engine for economic development, trade, and the protection of human rights. But the Internet is not always a force for good; the Internet has also become a platform for cyber-enabled theft, trade in illegal products such as drugs; and trade in exploits, botnets, and private information. Some governments even wage war online.
Although the Internet has become central to our lives, most of us have little understanding of how it works and how it should be governed. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt noted that “the Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand.” Former President Bill Clinton once likened the web to “jello” and warned that no government could control it.
The first few weeks of the course will focus on defining the internet and learning about ideas, international mechanisms, and institutions for internet governance.We will then focus on how policymakers use trade policy to regulate the internet. Next we will examine issues regarding the internet such as online copyright, and privacy, human rights online, surveillance; and explore cyber-enabled theft and cyber-insecurity. We will gain new insights into the role of trust and human rights online. In so doing we will gain an appreciation of how policymakers and private actors struggle to keep the internet stable, open and trustworthy.